Posted by: markfender | July 8, 2015

Viking Comics

So, as mentioned yesterday (and last week…it’s like I’m a broken record or something), I mentioned that I’m gonna run some Exalted. I even mentioned that it was going to be set in the North. And, so, in the course of my “research,” I read some swole comics about big dudes with spears stabbing other dudes with spears.

Northlanders-6Northlanders isn’t actually a Viking comic, as it deals with Danes, Anglo-Saxons, and other groups (although there are Swedes and Finns as well). But, since these cultures often get lumped together, we’re going with Northlanders being viking. By Brian Wood, it’s a bunch of shorter stories playing with historical events of the times. It’s a fairly realistic take, with the weather ending lives just as much as spears do. Wood’s a good writer who explores the mindset of these disparate cultures and their fatalism. In fact, Northlanders is super-fatalistic. I don’t think a single of these stories ends well. They’re all major downers.

Only one story arc, Metal, dealt with actual supernatural events and I don’t think it worked as well as many of the other stories. Now, that could have been because it came near the end of the comic, when a tone of non-supernatural stuff had already been firmly established. Even the supernatural events in the story are sort of explained away by talking about “mushroom tea.” So, when the main character starts talking to his god, I just assumed he was tripping pretty hard and combining some cultural explanations with hallucinations. And then a guy comes back to life….and there’s never any explanation. This wouldn’t have thrown me if this was a normal comic. But a realistic tone had already been established so the coming back to life bit was confusing me.

Despite that potential mistep, the rest of the stories were pretty good. I can’t call out a particular story as being my favorite, if only because they were all pretty excellent. Although, maybe don’t read the whole run in the course of two days like I did, because apparently nothing good ever happened to anyone in that time period and it’s a bit depressing.

helheim1On the other hand, there’s Helheim. Judging from the art on these two covers, you can probably tell that it’s the more “comic-booky” of the two series. It explicitly deals with witches, valkyries, and the undead – you know, general comic stuff. I liked the art by Joelle Jones here, as it didn’t overly sexualize the females (A rare thing in comics). Not that the art doesn’t get “sexy” in places, but when a woman is stabbing a giant bear, she’s also not contorting her spine to display her ass and boobs to the audience, as would happen in a regular comic.

However, there was a notable lack of story here. Every issue of this comic (and the follow-up story Brides of Helheim) has a lot of fighting and that fighting consists of various grunts for page after page. Here’s a typical breakdown of the dialogue:

“HWRR!!”

“UFFF!”

“GRRRRR!”

“HURRGHGH!”

And that goes on for half of every issue. At least when Brian Wood does it in Northlanders, there’s usually some internal monologue going on as well. That being said, it’s a fairly short, fun comic. Just don’t expect scintillating dialogue.

So, I guess you can add these two to my Exalted Influences shelf.

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